Friday, February 13, 2009

The House Between 3.2. "Addicted"

The second episode of The House Between's new season is now broadcasting!

You can check out "Addicted" at Google Video here. The link to Veoh is here. Again, if you use Veoh, I suggest you go the distance and download the entire episode instead of watching it on the site. The download preserves the original sound and video quality; otherwise the audio "warbles." Google has lousy video compression, but the sound quality is preserved. The episode is also showing on the series home page.

If you watch, comment here on how you like it!



Watch The House Between 3.2: "Addicted" View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

13 Reasons I Love the Friday the 13th Films

Happy Friday the 13th!

Today sees the release of a re-imagined Friday the 13th movie franchise in cinemas across America. Given this milestone, II figured it was a good time to pay my respects to the original films; the ones I grew up with as a teenager in the 1980s.

So, without further introduction, here are 13 reasons I will always love the Friday the 13th movies:


1.) There's a consistent, Old Testament-style, conservative argument to be made in the interpretation of the old school Friday the 13th films (1980 - 1991). I describe this thesis a bit in my book, Horror Films of the 1980s, referring to it as "vice precedes slice and dice." That means, simply, that misbehaving teenagers (screwing, drinking, snorting coke and getting high...) are punished (violently...) for their moral transgressions. Jason, whose trusty machete might as well be the punishing Hand of God Himself, is the punisher. With this motif in place, I never understood the Moral Majority's dedicated opposition to the Friday the 13th films. The not-so-subtle subtext of these Reagan Age horrors is that if you play...you pay. But then, would-be censors aren't know for their penetrating film analysis, I suppose.

2.) There is an alternative interpretation of the Friday the 13th films too. Stated bluntly, it is implicit in the original films that Jason Voorhees - hockey mask, machete and all -- is the natural (or supernatural...) result of a modern world in which there are no more predators for man. Jason is therefore but a mechanism, a response from nature, to man's invasion of a natural terrain (in this case, Camp Crystal Lake).
Screening the Friday the 13th film together, it's clear that the one factor in common is not Jason himself (who, technically, doesn't appear in Part V: A New Beginning), but rather...a storm. Yep, bad weather inevitably brings thunder, lightning...and evil, serial-killer predators (whether Mrs. Voorhees, Jason, or the Jason Impostor). The arrival of bad weather is important in the various Friday the 13th narratives for practical reasons, of course. Storms knock out power (and particularly lights...) plunging frightened teens into darkness, preventing telephone calls for aid, and making the youngsters ripe for the picking off. But it's more than that. It's as if nature is rising up and rebelling against these aimless, decadent humans and Jason is the mechanism to destroy them. If Jason didn't exist, Mother Nature would have to invent him. Consider also that Jason is tied to nature in an interesting fashion: he is believed dead for years when in fact he is alive and "incubating" at the bottom of Camp Crystal Lake.

3.) The Survivors. They were no longer little women...they were final girls. Horror-hating moralists and not a few feminists perpetually and blindly misinterpret the Friday the 13th films as misogynistic when nothing could be further from the truth. Virtually every Friday the 13th film provides the audience a laudable and heroic "final girl" who outsmarts, out-thinks and out-fights the powerful (and male) Jason Voorhees. While her friends are fucking, getting high, or getting drunk, the final girl alone is actually paying attention to what's happening, and able to sense -- and ultimately combat -- looming danger. Tell me that's not a positive message to send to teenage girls. Keep your wits about you, don't submit to peer pressure, and remember where you left the chainsaw...

4.) The sleeping bag kill. This is a murder featured in Friday the 13th: The New Blood (1988), and it's my all-time favorite sequence in the franchise. As you may recall, Jason zips up an unlucky camper in a sleeping bag and then -- like she's a sack of potatoes -- repeatedly slams the bag and camper into a tree trunk It's not the goriest kill; it's not the silliest kill; but in some ways this basic bludgeoning is the most brutal and -- oddly -- the funniest kill in the series. I get a kick out of it every time I see it.

5.) The Cassandra Complex. This character archetype appears in several Friday the 13th films (particularly the first, Part 2, Jason Lives and Jason Takes Manhattan). There's always a drunk stumbling around the perimeter of Crystal Lake warning oblivious teens that they're all "going to die." This Cassandra figure goes right back to Greek myth -- the tragic seer who is never believed by those in danger. Critics and moralists can accuse the Friday the 13th films of being pandering, stupid horror movies as much as they want...but many of the entries are actually constructed with an eye towards some classic literature. Both in Mother Love (the relationship between Jason and Mrs. Voorhees) and in the inclusion of the discredited seer.


6.) Tom McLoughlin's sense of humor. McLoughlin directed Part VI, Jason Lives! and once more found the fun in the aging Friday the 13th saga, injecting the series with fresh blood in a number of clever sequences. The film opens, for instance, with a nod to the James Bond gun barrel sequence, except this time Jason is on-screen armed with a machete. The humor permeates in the film in little ways too. A child camper at Crystal Lake is seen, briefly, reading No Exit. Again, the meme that these are just "stupid" horror movies is proven wrong.

7.) The Stars in Waiting. Kevin Bacon, Crispin Glover, Corey Feldman, and Martin Cummins are just a few of the young actors who showed up at Camp Crystal Lake, got horribly murdered by a Voorhees, and moved on to bigger things. Everybody's got to start somewhere...

8.) Harry Manfredini's trademark "chi-chi-ha-ha" riff. Okay, so it's not the Halloween theme by John Carpenter. But this creepy, classic composition defined the Friday the 13th sound for a generation of teenagers, entered the pop culture lexicon, and was widely imitated and mocked. And, if I'm not mistaken, the cue is resurrected for the remake.

9.) The trailer for Jason Takes Manhattan. I'm not certain how many of you are old enough to recall this TV advertisement...but it was bloody genius. To the chipper tune of "New York, New York," a camera crept up on a figure gazing at the iconic New York City skyline. As we moved in on the figure -- his back to us -- he whirled around and it was...Jason! This trailer was actually more inventive than the farmed out-to-Canada movie it was created for. I appreciated the tag-line too: "Now New York has a new problem." I also can't help but think of The Muppets Take Manhattan...

10.) High Concepts Gone Horribly Wrong. The makers of the Friday the 13th films attempted desperately to keep the long-in-the-tooth series going, infusing new and crazy ideas into the later sequels. For instance, A New Blood was sort of Carrie Versus Jason, an idea that sounds great on paper but doesn't play so well, especially when "Carrie's" psychic powers miss their target and wake up Jason Voorhees from his deathly slumber at the bottom of Crystal Lake. And who can forget Jason X -- which sent Jason into deep space and brought in Star Trek: The Next Generation's holodeck technology? And in the underwhelming Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason is overcome by toxic waste in Manhattan's sewers...because you know, in New York, toxic waste gets flushed through the sewers every night! The toxic sludge doesn't kill Jason though...it just transforms, him into a pre-pubescent kid wearing his bathing suit. Whatever...

11.) Amy Steel. Ginny from Friday the 13th Part II is my personal favorite "final girl" in the series. It's a personal thing, all right? Not every Final girl can adorn a bloody wool sweater, talk sternly to Jason, and get the killer to back down. If I can't have Jamie Lee Curtis...give me Amy Steel any day.

12.) The Motive That Makes No Sense. So let me get this straight. Mrs. Voorhees went on a killing spree in 1980 (in the first film) because her little boy, Jason, drowned at Camp Crystal Lake in 1958 thanks to neglectful counselors. But...as the end of Friday the 13th proves...Jason didn't drown. He's still alive. So if Jason isn't really dead, why is Mrs. Voorhees after Alice (Adrienne King) and her friends? It makes no sense at all. Then, Jason kills new teenagers because Alice killed his mother. But his Mother shows up alive in the lake at the end of Part III. What the hell? It kind of reminds me -- in a really bad way -- of Jaws IV: The Revenge (1987). There, the great white shark wants revenge against all Brodys because Chief Brody...killed it.

13.) The sting-in-the-tail/tale from Friday the 13th. Director Sean Cunningham crafts a perfect, mind-shattering coda for Friday the 13th, even if it makes no sense in terms of the specifics of the narrative. A spent Alice is alone in a row boat, in the middle of Camp Crystal Lake when a deformed Jason Boy leaps out of the water to attack her. This sting-in-the-tale/tail is second only to Brian De Palm's Carrie (1976) in terms of terrifying impact. Everything about this finale is pitch-perfect, from the placid, idyllic look of the lake, to the tranquil, misleading music, to the sudden attack itself. Indeed, the longevity of the Friday series may originate from this unforgettable denouement (which passed the serial killer torch from Mother to Son).

There you have it. Happy Friday the 13th. Here's to you, Jason...with an arrow in the eye!


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Director's Notes 3.2: "Addicted"

In “Mirrored,” the fifth episode of The House Between’s first season, a mysterious mirror exposed the buried and neglected aspects of the denizens’ personalities.

Arlo became violent and abusive. Astrid grew…uh…sexually expressive. Travis became sensitive, kind and empathetic. And Theresa’s facade of emotionless discipline dropped away, revealing a very sweet, lonely, young person.

Bill T. Clark, the scientist and traditional hero-type among these denizens, held himself together (even though the mirror forced him to reckon with his own fear of mortality…). And Bill made the others regain their senses too before episode’s end, starting with a resistant Theresa.

When we shot “Mirrored,” I mentioned to Tony Mercer (who plays Bill), that, one day -- -- if the show lasted -- we’d have to do an episode of The House Between in which Bill gets his turn to go off the reservation, so-to-speak. You know, a version of Star Trek's “The Paradise Syndrome,” in which our own steady hand becomes…unsteady. I could see Tony playing the part in my mind’s eye, and knew he would be great and the episode would be unforgettable.

But it had to happen at the right time and in the right way. It almost happened near the end of season two, with a slightly different focus. When mapping out the seasonal arc, Joe Maddrey and I knew we wanted the episode before "Ruined" to find all the denizens at odds with each other, locked in separate fantasy worlds of their own making. Realizing the house was under attack from outside, Theresa would then have to venture into each personal domain (a reflection of each character's desires and individuality), and sort of forcibly yank them back to reality.

Bill's fantasy world was to have been a family Thanksgiving dinner. Set in a dining room over a holiday meal, Bill would have been carving the roast for Samantha, Sam, Katie, William and a "version" of wife Laura that was mostly Astrid. Theresa would show up, slap him around a little, and bring him back to his senses. Ultimately, we went with a more abstract, introverted approach and Joe devised the brilliant, cinematic "long night of the soul" approach of "Caged."

But I never let a good idea go. Some of that prospective material finds life again with the second episode of The House Between's third season, “Addicted.” It’s a mirror version of “Mirrored” in some important senses too.

However, as you’ll see…even when Bill is off in fantasy land, his scientist’s brain is still ticking away, resisting.

So even when Bill is off the reservation, he isn’t totally off the reservation. His intellect is always at work and the episode, I think, comes down a battle between the voices in Bill’s head…the voice of reality…and the voice of denial.

“The Paradise Syndrome” is an obvious parallel to “Addicted,” but there are others. Picard finding happiness inside the Nexus in Generations, or living a different life all together in “The Inner Light .”

The story archetype doesn’t just appear in Star Trek either, it goes back as far as Homer’s Odyssey. The idea of a man waylaid on his way home by a “reality” that seems appealing and wonderful…but is actually fatal. In The Odyssey, it was the sirens doing the tempting. In The House Between, Bill also encounters a siren of sorts.

In terms of influences, I also appreciated a conceit from the second season episode of Space:1999 called “The Bringers of Wonder.” There, monstrous aliens were able to grant the Alphans a belief in any illusion they desired. The unhappy Alphans could be with family and friends again, they could be on Earth…anything was possible. The price for these illusions, however, was searing death: while the Alphans’ minds wandered happily, the aliens planned to detonate a nuclear power generator.

What cost paradise?

If someone told you that you could live the rest of your life in utter bliss…but that your life would only last twenty-four hours, what would you do? Cling to “reality,” which is often sad, and in which there are no guarantees anyway? Or take the bliss and know that -- at least for one day -- you were truly happy?

My friend and cinematographer Rick Coulter tells me that “Addicted” is actually about levels of reality; about what is “real” and what is -- for lack of a better term -- “The Matrix.” Perhaps so, but for me the trenchant issue here is that one man’s bliss is another man’s prison. Bill’s perfect, idealized world is actually a trap, and perhaps (or perhaps not…) that’s a comment on contemporary suburbia.

There’s so much happening in “Addicted,” and Rick also informs me it is a very Buddhist episode in tone and meaning, one about the cyclical nature of life; and the path to true enlightenment. As smart as Bill is, “Addicted” -- for him -- completes a cycle.


Shooting “Addicted” was a delight in every way. We shot the third season of The House Between in just five and a-half days, leaving only a half-day for “Addicted,” those scenes involving the Dark Place, specifically. There, Brick finds out that the new Lar has a nasty temper; and Astrid uncovers a mystery. Meanwhile, Travis is up to some of his old manipulative tricks…

There was a fun action scene between Craig and Jim that I enjoyed filming, and another great, emotional sequence between Alicia and Jim that balances, in a strange way, the Astrid/Bill material. The capper of the episode is a heartbreaking moment that Kim and Tony played to perfection, and which brings the Astrid/Bill relationship full circle. I'm still amazed they brought all this to the table...on the first bloody day of the shoot.

The remainder of “Addicted” was filmed at a later date by Rick and me (in a different location…), with Tony, Kim and Alicia in tow. It is ultimately for the audience to decide, of course, but I believe with all my heart that these three actors achieve a special magic together in “Addicted.” They’re better than they’ve ever been before, and that’s really saying something. They should all be big stars…I just wish I had a bigger budget to showcase them.

I also had the distinct pleasure of resurrecting Sam Clark for a few key scenes in “Addicted”, though it was difficult at first remembering who the hell the guy was. Tony offered me some key acting advice, after he said he kept seeing "John Muir walk through the front door," and not Sam Clark.

He told me, specifically, to remember Sam’s leather pants.

That brilliant bit of insight was the key to reclaiming the character and his particular state of mind. Almost as soon as Tony offered that wisdom, I was able to find Sam once more.

Although I don’t think Tony actually said “leather” pants. I think he said “sassy” pants. And Sam is, after all, Mr. Sassy Pants.

Mateo’s incomparable music also adds new, impressive colors to “Addicted.” His piece, “Addicted to You” is one of the most beautiful compositions in all three years of the series (and among all two hundred pieces). Mateo has also composed a new main title theme song, and it is a fantastic, compelling, “muscular” re-vamp of the trademark tune. It premieres in “Addicted’ with the new third season credit montage. Additionally, Mateo contributed another great tune too, but I can’t give away the name, because it will spoil a special moment in the show.

Cesar also came back to The House Between for the first time since the first season to offer a great guitar theme for Bill, one that showcases his vulnerability and uncertainty. An action scene in "Addicted" features library stock music.

While I’m on the music front, Kim Breeding also wrote -- and performs -- a haunting melody here which, for me, evokes The Twilight Zone’s “Come Wander with Me:” a perfect homage for an episode concerning a repeating cycle, sirens, new love, old love, doomed love and endless love.

So that’s the story of “Addicted.” Tune in tomorrow and let me know what you think. If all the bloomin' uploads work...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

CULT MOVIE REVIEW: Them (2007)

Sometimes, a skillful return to basics can be...refreshing.

This is true of the horror genre too. Now and then, the scariest films are those with the most direct and unfettered narratives; boasting the least amount of character "soap opera," and featuring almost no reliance on digital creations or other special effects.

Sometimes it's a downright relief to abandon the long-in-the-tooth franchise monsters with their elaborate histories and canon, the vengeful Japanese ghouls with their labyrinthine back stories and technological trappings, or the post-modern pretensions, allusions and homages of the post-Scream slasher-set.

The French shocker, Them (2007), seems to take that hint, and it's a breath of fresh -- and intoxicating -- air. The film is simple and elegant... and it will terrify you to your core.

This film from directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud is a streamlined, throat-tightening exercise in pure suspense; essentially a sustained 75-minute siege and chase. The terror escalates to a frenzy...and that frenzy is masterfully sustained and honed right through the denouement and a revelatory, perfectly-executed pull-back.

Them is the tale of beautiful Clementine (Olivia Bonamy), a French instructor who has recently moved to Bucharest, Romania...where she teaches at the French Junior High School. "I need some time to adjust," she informs a co-worker early on, revealing she's only been away from France for three months and still having difficulties.

And her young wards, who buzz about the hallways madly to the tune of school bells? "They were irritating today," Clementine complains, happy that the weekend -- and a respite -- has come. She drives home (in a series of high-angle, long shots...) to a dilapidated and vast country estate, where her lover, Lucas (Michael Cohen) -- a writer -- welcomes her. They spend a happy night at home until approximately 3:45 am, when both Lucas and Clementine are awakened from their slumber by strange and disturbing noises outside.

Before their eyes, Clementine's car is stolen...driven right off the premises. And then, a gaggle of mysterious assailants (in hooded sweatshirts) invade the house and begin playing chilling games: flipping on and off the television, turning on the water spigot in the bathroom faucet, and so forth.

It isn't long before these pranks escalate, turning into a full-scale assault on the house and its occupants. Lucas is hobbled during the first assault by a shard of glass, leaving Clementine to seek an escape route for them through the colossal attic...

To describe additional details would do this thrilling horror film a disservice, but suffice it to say that by Them's climax (set in a dark, subterranean tunnel system...) you'll feel yourself gasping for air, and clawing to escape right alongside the beleaguered protagonists.


Them's
visual style is distinctive and effective, a not-too-unsteady-cam approach that simultaneously telegraphs vulnerability and immediacy. The film makes strong use of atypical illumination sources:: car headlights, flashlights, and the glare of the television, for example. Often, these are the only light sources in scenes, granting the film a dark, earthy, cinema-verite texture. One elaborate scare sequence set in the expansive attic -- involving plastic sheets and a high hatch-way on the wall chillingly recalls a moment from Argento's Suspiria, but not in an overly derivative way.

Them's final sequence, a race and pursuit through the aforementioned tunnel system, is brilliantly-staged too. I haven't felt such unbridled terror rising in my throat since the closing minutes of The Blair Witch Project (1999). It's that sense of total immersion, identification and nail-biting uncertainty. You're in the dark (where a string of hanging light-bulbs only seem to operate intermittently...), alone, and you don't know what to expect around the next corner.

But somewhere, up ahead, you loved one is screaming bloody murder...

Straightforward and spare (and even adopting the "based on a true story" title card we also saw in last year's exquisite The Strangers), Them also serves as a fascinating reflection of French culture and the times. One reviewer, for instance, viewed the film as a response to France's admission into the European Union and the fear of "barbaric" Romanians. Corry Cropper and Marc Olivier write (in Lingua Romana): "The film emphasizes the technological and cultural backwardness of Romania: phones are unreliable, television programming is poor and in black and white, the police force is unresponsive and the food is bad. Like the house Lucas and Clémentine live in, Romania is dilapidated and in serious need of repair."

I wonder too if the film doesn't concern, to some extent, the social/civil unrest in France circa 2005-2006. As you may recall, riots broke out in the streets -- across the country -- after a handful youngsters were killed in a power plant while evading police pursuit. The riots involved the burning and destruction of automobiles -- and cars certainly play an important part in the action of Them (as do...youngsters.) The riots were later blamed by some on France's large Muslim population and so the sub-text here seems to concernFrench uneasiness about cultural assimilation; aand bout their role of reduced importance in the world: both in Romania, perhaps, and at home.

In the end, such interpretation is interesting but unimportant to an enjoyment of the film. Them boasts a simple and admirable agenda: to scare you to death. By and large - mission accomplished.

Them
starts strong (with a carefully-crafted gag involving the open hood of a car) and it doesn't relent (even a little...) until that final revelatory pull-back and retraction; the last word, perhaps in symbolizing visual entrapment. The film's coda, which exposes the true nature of the killers (and explains the strange "clicking" sound that marks their presence...) is a genius twist...one that will inspire in audiences either outrage, outright admiration, or macabre laughter.

Maybe all three at once, actually.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Total Failure of Imagination

I try hard not to pre-judge movies that I haven't seen. To do so makes no sense...what am I judging if I haven't seen the final work of art?

I've counseled patience on the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek, for instance.

I want to wait and see what that experience will bring...and hope it will be something wonderful. I'm heavily invested in Star Trek as a long-time fan, but if I were to choose between another Next Gen movie or J.J. Abrams vetting a Batman Begins-style re-boot, I'd be for the latter. Nemesis cured me of any delusion that the Next Gen movies were on anything approaching the right track.

I can't honestly tell you that Rob Zombie's Halloween was worse than Halloween: Resurrection, either. Even if I had problems with Zombie's re-interpretation of the classic Carpenter material.


I'm also open-minded about the Friday the 13th remake, and was favorably impressed by the trailer for the remake of Last House on the Left. I even liked the re-imagination of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre as a pure "scare" experience, if not as the stunning work of art that Tobe Hooper so artistically crafted.

See? I try not to pre-judge. But I don't always succeed.

Case in point: Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost movie. I just feel grim, and a bit demoralized that a TV show I grew up has been transformed into that most horrible of mongrels: the Will Ferrell comedy of the week. Could it have been worse? Well, I guess it could have starred Adam Sandler. Or - shudder - Rob Schneider.

Yes, yes I know the Sleestaks look just like they did on the 1970s show. I realize there's a clear attempt in the film's production design to maintain fidelity to the look and feel of the original series. But frankly, that's the wrong kind of "faithful." It's faithful only to be...jokey, to point out how fake and campy everything crafted in the 1970s looks to us today. It's smug superiority masquerading as "faithful."


As my snarky brother-in-law said to me over the Christmas holiday: how does it feel to see your dream turned into a nightmare?

It seems to me that the one reason to undertake a remake of a TV show or movie is to improve and update it. I love the original Land of the Lost, but the special effects are indeed dated and it is clearly designed "for children." There's nothing wrong with that. I'm just saying that a Land of the Lost movie -- a movie faithful to the spirit of original series but made for adults, could be an incredible thing.

Imagine the awe of seeing those dinosaurs for the first time on the big screen. Imagine the terror of first encountering updated Sleestak. Imagine Land of the Lost's environmental message (about various "tribes" getting along to take care of the planet), re-tooled for an age in which that message is really and truly important. I remember how Land of the Lost fed my childhood obsession with all things dinosaurs, and wonder if the new movie will have that same impact.


For all those reasons, a serious, adventurous, exciting and scary Land of the Lost movie -- along the lines of Jurassic Park -- could be a wondrous thing. The series offers a great premise, after all, and there are some great locations, creatures and characters to be mined.


But the best our slick pop-culture age can muster is a jokey Will Ferrell comedy.

A product that makes fun of the original show, and that plays Chaka, the Sleestak, the pocket universe...even the dinosaurs, for easy, cheap laughs. It's easier to mock something people have nostalgia for, I suppose, then go that extra mile and write a good, serious script, and shoot a believable fantasy adventure.


We've all heard that fanboy comment about our collective childhoods being raped by modern Hollywood. That's certainly an over-statement, but this Land of the Lost remake represents a total failure of the imagination on the conceptual level, a cheap shot for easy money. Am I pre-judging the movie? I guess I am: I'm saying that any movie called Land of the Lost shouldn't be a Will Ferrell Anchorman/Blades of Glory-style comedy. The movie may prove to be a very funny comedy, but that won't change the fact that the entire enterprise was conceived in cynicism.

Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost isn't going to rape my childhood this summer, but it certainly is..pillaging it.

Premio Dardo Winner!

Happy Monday, everybody! The fantastic (and award-winning) blogger Amanda By Night at Made for TV Mayhem has bestowed upon me and this blog the prestigious Premio Dardo Award. Wow!

This blogger-to-blogger accolade "acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day."

It's a great privilege to be acknowledged for this honor, especially from a blogger I admire so deeply. Made for TV Mayhem is one of the handful of blogs I follow religiously, and which I enjoy tremendously. Anyone who understands an obsession with Tiffany Bolling is a friend for life in my book. Thank you, Amanda!

I must confess, I don't really understand how precisely all this works (I'm a bit of a dunce when it comes to the community of blogging...), so permit me to go by the rules:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.


2) Pass the award to 5 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Okay, so now it is incumbent on me to pass along this Premio Dardo decoration to five bloggers whom I feel ably transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day. Let's do it!

1.) Theofantastique: This meeting place for myth, imagination and mystery in pop culture is a tireless and meticulous effort. The approach is commendably cerebral, and the author, John Morehead is not only curious and thoughtful, but a highly-skilled communicator. John focuses on books, films, television and the history of the horror genre with enthusiasm and a keen intellectual eye.

2.) Zombos Closet of Horror: This dedicated blogger, Iloz Zoc, is the founder and organizer of the League of Tana Tea Drinkers, not to mention a bonafide wit. First, my hat is off to him for wrangling a wide cross-section of authors, and bloggers (herding cats?) with such aplomb, spirit and frankly...love. More to the point, Zombos Closet of Horror is a blog I follow on a daily basis, because I.Z. offers unbridled passion for the horror genre. He also knows how to turn a memorable phrase in an amusing, sharp and appropriately macabre fashion. His writing is perpetually funny and absorbing. Horror conventions and toys, movies old and new -- they're all covered here with a fresh perspective.

3.) Vault of Horror: this is where I go to get my horror news, and pretty much on a daily basis at that. B-Sol is the genius behind all those controversial and inspiring Cyber-Elite lists that have been burning up the Internets lately, but that's only the tip of the machete, so-to-speak. You'll find news stories, reviews, lists, obits, trenchant commentary and much more at Vault of Horror. A must-read horror blog...and if it's been more than a few hours since I checked it out, I feel empty inside.

4.) Maddrey Misc.: This is the blog of Joseph Maddrey, the author of Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film. He's also produced a documentary of that book, and serves as my series producer on The House Between. I know Joe well -- I consider him one of my best friends, in fact. But I don't check out his blog because we're buddies and colleagues. This isn't about nepotism. I check out Maddrey Misc because Joe is an amazing photographer, and he regularly posts beautiful location photographs from horror movies and Westerns of yesteryear. He also charts horror movie premieres and revivals in the L.A. area, which is an aspect of the genre that interests me. Joe's no slouch in the writing category either, penning book reviews, music reviews and great "nostalgia" posts too. Just check out his current post, "Superstition," putting the Friday the 13th films into the context of his childhood.

5. Plaid Stallions: This is where I head when I need a toy nostalgia fix. Plaid Stallions is an impressive and beautifully-designed daily blog dedicated to a remembrance of all things from the pop-culture of the 1970s, but especially the toys I grew up with. There are great post categories here, from crazy catalog photos of the disco decade, to retro-playgrounds (!), to images of old toy stores and their displays. I don't want to grow up...I'm a Plaid Stallions kid.

Thank you again, Amanda, for thinking of me for this award. It means a lot to me.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ms. Psychic Vibrations at Quantum Imprimaturs

Alicia A. Wood, who plays Theresa Melita -- the psychic astronaut -- on The House Between, and who happens to be a dear friend of mine, is interviewed over at Quantum Imprimaturs today.

Alicia has been amazing on The House Between, not merely learning and expertly performing all my crazy, lengthy dialogue, but crafting an original and intriguing "sci-fi" character (whom I once half-jokingly called my resident alien).

Here's a snippet of Alicia's interview
:



How would you describe the character of Theresa?

Theresa is honest, self assured, and analytical. She thinks she is an unemotional, detached observer, (and seems to want to present herself that way,) but we see her attachments to the other denizens grow, and softness comes out more and more as the series progresses. Don't get me wrong, she'll never be the damsel in distress, girly type, but her hard shell may have some cracks in it. She is very aware of others feelings and thoughts, though not always sensitive to them. She is open minded in the sense that she's receptive to new ideas, but at the same time, she can be stubborn in the way she views thinking not like her own.

What is her family and career background?

Theresa was a graduate student before the near fatal accident that forever changed the course of her life. She started her "career" under Professor Vincenzo's wing, learning to become a psychic astronaut. She was raised at Cape Cod by humble, unpretentious, upper- middle class parents. They were loving parents, but their conservative natures wouldn't allow them to accept her after her NDE. They saw that she had changed, and rejected her when her path changed to one of a psychic astronaut. They did not approve of Professor Vincenzo's teachings.


Where did the name Melita come from?

Leave it to John to find a way to incorporate obscure references & hidden meanings into everything. He tells me that "Melita" comes from a word meaning "affording honey," or "bee." And since Theresa can sting like a bee or be sweet like honey, I thought it was an appropriate name -- reflecting both her strength and her gentleness. Melita is also the last name of a famous author who wrote a book about astral projection."